Yesterday we have made a fantastic hike with Maarten, a walking encyclopaedia on Svalbard biology and history.
After a thorough instruction on what to do in case of an encounter with polar bears we could leave the village to go to the North side of the Fjord. Here there is a long history of mining for coal. In the 1960s these activities seized, and the mines were abandoned rapidly. However, in the area remains of mining activities still occur, for instance large piles if mining tailings. Melt water from mountains behind the area flows through this area, possibly carrying contaminants to potential feeding areas for barnacle geese.
In this pilot study we would like to get an insight in the local contaminant patterns resulting from this, so we collected soil, vegetation and goose droppings. These will be analysed back home on pollutants like PAHs, lead and mercury. This will provide information to design an in-depth study on the contamination of the area, and potential impacts on the growing goose chicks. This will learn us more on the potential impacts of human activities on Arctic organisms.